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Extracellular vesicles (EVs), sub-micron vectors used in intercellular communication, have demonstrated great promise as natural drug delivery systems. Recent reports have detailed impressive in vivo results from the administration of EVs pre-loaded with therapeutic cargo, including small molecules, nanoparticles, proteins and oligonucleotides. These results have sparked intensive research interest across a huge range of disease models. There are, however, enduring limitations that have restricted widespread clinical and pharmaceutical adoption. In this perspective, we discuss these practical and biological concerns, critically compare the relative merit of EVs and synthetic drug delivery systems, and highlight the need for a more comprehensive understanding of in vivo transport and delivery. Within this framework, we seek to establish key areas in which EVs can gain a competitive advantage in order to provide the tangible added value required for widespread translation.

Original publication




Journal article


Adv Drug Deliv Rev

Publication Date





12 - 16


Drug delivery, Exosomes, Extracellular vesicles, Liposomes, Microvesicles, Drug Delivery Systems, Extracellular Vesicles, Humans, Nanoparticles, Oligonucleotides, Proteins, Small Molecule Libraries